It has been a pretty big year for films this year.
We have seen some original films along with the return of some old favourite franchises and characters.
But before I get to my film of the year. I’m going to offer a few honourable mentions of films I have enjoyed in 2015, but didn’t quite think they were the best. I’ll try to avoid spoilers as much as I can, but there may be the odd one slip through, you have been warned.
So lets get cracking, my first enjoyable film of 2015.
Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance): Michael Keaton plays a struggling actor, Riggan Thomson who was once famous for playing the superhero Birdman over 20 years ago. He tires to establish himself as a serious actor by writing, directing and starring in an ambitious Broadway production which he hopes will breathe new life into his failing career.
The film is full of great performances from the likes of Edward Norton and Zach Galifianakis. But it is Michael Keaton himself who steals the show with his portrayal of this unhappy actor trying to regain his fame and control of his life…all while being haunted by his more famous alter ego Birdman.
A bitter-sweet film with plenty of room for your own interpretation as to exactly what is going on with the Riggan Thomson character.
American Sniper: Directed by the great Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper. This film tells the true story of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. After marrying, Kyle is sent out to his first real conflict in Iraq along with other members of his SEALS team.
After four tours of duty in total, he is sent home back to his wife and family. He returns a hero and legend for his deeds in Iraq. However, back home is where Kyle struggles to maintain a “normal” life with all he had witnessed while in conflict.
Brilliantly directed by Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper is equally as great as the tragic real life American hero, Chris Kyle.
Kingsman: The Secret Service: A wonderful tongue in cheek love letter to spy films. With a great ensemble cast that includes; Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson and Taron Egerton. Based on the comic book of the same name. Taron plays a simple streetwise kid; Gary “Eggsy” Unwin who gets enrolled into the world of the Kingsmen by Harry Hart (Colin Firth) after they lose one of their agents.
Samuel L. Jackson plays the villainous Richmond Valentine. Who plans on launching a mass, worldwide killing spree. Harry Hart takes “Eggsy” under his wing and puts him through a tough training schedule in order to help him take down Valentine.
Funny and action packed with some amazingly choreographed fight sequences. Plus top notch performances from Colin Firth and Taron Egerton. Yet it is Samuel L. Jackson who steals the show here as the main villain who is utterly charming and endearing.
The Interview: Controversially pulled from its original release date after the infamous Sony Pictures Entertainment hack in 2014. On December 16, 2014, the hackers issued a warning to movie-goers, threatening to attack the New York premier of The Interview as well as other threats of attacks. A private message to Sony executives, said that the hackers would not release further information if Sony never releases the film and removed its presence from the internet. Many cinema chains decided not to screen the film themselves.
Sony did release the film, but only in a few smaller cinemas as well as a limited online release and cancelled a wider release schedule.
The film stars James Franco as Dave Skylark, a famous TV celebrity and interviewer. With Seth Rogen playing his producer Aaron Rapoport. They find out that the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a huge fan of Skylark’s TV show and they are decide to interview Kim Jong-un in an attempt to legitimize themselves as serious journalists. As Skylark and Rapoport prepare to travel to Pyongyang for the interview, they are recruited by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-un.
A wickedly funny film with some surprisingly touching moments all be them faked by Kim Jong-un to impress the visiting Americans. Shame those overtly touchy North Koreans lowered themselves to terrorist threats over a comedy film.
Predestination: One of the surprise films of the year for me. I knew nothing about this one other then it was based on a story by Robert A. Heinlein. Ethan Hawke plays a Temporal Agent tasked to hunting down a known terrorist known as “The Fizzle Bomber” who is responsible for killing 1000’s of people.
While working undercover in a bar, Hawke meets a mysterious customer who he takes on to help him track The Fizzle Bomber…and that is all I’m willing to say about this film as going on too much would be getting into serious spoilers.
This is a great time travel film that will have you scratching you head and asking WTF is going on? If you like a bit of a thriller that will leave you asking questions, then this is the film for you.
John Wick: Directed by David Leitch, Chad Stahelski and starring Keanu Reeves as the titualr character. This film is a rather simple revenge story, but done with great style. Reeves plays John Wick, a retired hitman who gave up his violent career after finding love. His wife suddenly dies and this leaves Wick in deep mourning. His wife, before she died had a brought a puppy for him.
Shorty after, a violent and sadistic mobster Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) breaks into John’s home, steals his beloved car and kills the puppy that was the final gift from his wife. Wick goes out to seek revenge, only problem is that Iosef Tarasov is the son of his former employer and gangland boss, who puts a huge bounty on Wick’s head in an attempt to save his son.
Great action film with a simple revenge plot. Keanu Reeves is amazing as an ageing and retired hitman but still has the skills required to take on his former boss.
Mad Max: Fury Road: Max is back…or rebooted. The forth film in the franchise and one again written and directed the franchise creator; George Miller. Only this time Mel Gibson is gone and Tom Hardy takes up the role instead.
Max Rockatansky teams up with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) as she tries to free the five wives of ruthless wasteland gang leader, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne…who played Toecutter in the original Mad Max). Immortan Joe sends out a hunting party to track down and kill both Furiosa and Max and regain his wives.
Simple plot…but all Mad Max films have simple plots. Yet I really enjoyed this one, a tone of car based action and destruction that really captured what a Mad Max film should be. Only gripe for me is that this really is not a Mad Max film as Max is more of a secondary character as Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa really is the focal point here.
I thought what little Tom Hardy had to do as Max was great though and more then a worthy replacement for the original Max, Mel Gibson. With at least one more film already announced, I can’t wait to see some more Mad Max. I just hope he is in the sequel a lot more.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation: Now I’m not the worlds biggest Mission: Impossible fan. I enjoyed the first film, but the sequels were pretty redundant. Yet I found this one really, really well done. Back once again is Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, only this time the IMF has been disbanded. yet the world is under threat by an organisation known as “The Syndicate”.
Hunt makes it his own personal mission to stop the sinister organization. While the CIA try to track him down to bring him in. Hunt enlists the help of some old friends; William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames).
There is a bit more to the plot than I described there, but I don’t want to spoil too much if you have not yet seen it. But this was a really good film with some great action and a decent plot. As I said, I’m not a fan of the franchise, but this film impressed me.
If you fancy an exciting action/thriller, then you can’t really go wrong with this one.
No Escape: Starring Owen Wilson as Jack Dwyer, an American businessman who moves to Southeast Asia with his wife and two children for his job. Jack is hired to oversee the construction of a water manufacturing plant for the company he works for.
The next day, Jack goes out to try and buy an American newspaper and he gets caught up in the middle of a violent rebellion. Jack manages to get back to his hotel only to find the uprising rebellion are there too and he learns they are there to kill any and all foreigners…that means Jack and his family are in danger.
The film is a tense and often brutal thriller (with a couple of really silly moments). Owen Wilson is great in the lead role and making a very welcome supporting actor appearance is Pierce Brosnan who plays an English tourist that is not all he seems to be.
This film really could have been absolutely amazing…if not for just a few silly parts. But overall, its a good thriller that can sometimes be a bit hard to watch. Plus Pierce Brosnan is just great in this one.
Which all leads into my pick for film of the year in 2015.
Fifty Shades Of Grey: And I bet you were expecting me to say Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Yep, its a surprise I must admit but this film truly is the best of 2015. I know it gets some flak, but its an overlooked masterpiece with amazing sub-text and compelling storytelling…nah, just joking. You couldn’t pay me enough to watch that shit.
My REAL film of 2015 is also the most recent film I have seen this year…
Creed: Following on from my Rocky retrospective. This was a film I was looking forward to, but also wasn’t really expecting too much at the same time. Yet it really surprised me in how great it was.
It really just boils down to a rehash of the original Rocky film. A young amateur boxer is mentored by a reluctant ageing trainer. The young boxer finds love as well as a chance at the title fight.
However, its a great rehash and one with some superb writing and acting throughout.
Michael B. Jordan in the starring role as Adonis Johnson/Creed is just a joy to watch and perfect casting for the role of playing the illegitimate son of Rocky’s old rival and friend, Apollo. What was great is how much Sylvester Stallone is in this film. In thought he’d be in it for 20 minutes or so as he is only a supporting actor in this one. But no, he almost had as much screen time as Jordan.
The chemistry between the two leads works great and you really get a sense of the respect the Rocky character has and his history through the franchise so far. While not as great as the previous film; Rocky Balboa. There is one thing in the film that was far better then any Rocky film to date. That is Sylvester Stallone himself, best performance of his career by far. If people doubt whether Stallone can act or not, I’d just point them towards this film as he is just stunning here. There has even been talk of the famed Oscar. Stallone at the very least deserves a nomination, if not a win for Best Supporting Actor.
You just need to remember going in that this is NOT a Rocky film. The torch has been passed wonderfully to Adonis here, this is his film and Rocky is just there…but he is there and it feels natural and not forced at all.
Creed is amazing, emotional and the best film I have seen this year by far, even if the plot is a carbon copy of the original Rocky, everything else about it is crafted perfectly. If they can maintain the greatness for future films, I’d definitely like to see more Creed films.
Interesting note; Stallone was the exact same age here Burgess Meredith was when he appeared in the first film as Rocky’s mentor.
Coming up next, my Game Of The Year 2015.